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Friday, 20 May 2011

Pacoima gang member should receive the death penalty for his role as the shooter in the murder-for-hire slaying of a Buena Park businessman

15:41 |

Pacoima gang member should receive the death penalty for his role as the shooter in the murder-for-hire slaying of a Buena Park businessman nearly 10 years ago, an Orange County jury recommended Thursday.
Armando Macias, 35, watched the jurors when the death verdict was announced after two days of deliberations. Moments later, he swiveled in his chair, smiled at his sister – who was tearing-up in the courtroom gallery – and waved.
He became the third gang member to get a death verdict for the Oct. 2, 2002, shooting death of David Montemayor, who was gunned down on a residential street as he tried to escape from three gang members hired by his sister.
It marks the first time in Orange County history that three defendants received death sentences for the same case.
Two of Macias' gang associates have been tried, convicted and sentenced to death for their roles in the Montemayor murder. They include a veteran gang member convicted of being the go-between who put together the death squad and the unsuccessful driver of the getaway car.
Two other co-defendants, including Deborah Ann Perna, Montemayor's sister who initiated the plot, have been tried, convicted and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Susan Montemayor, the victim's widow, sat solemnly in the gallery when the death verdict was announced. She has been present for all five verdicts involving the murder of her husband. "It's a relief to be done with the last one," she said.
Deputy District Attorney Michael Murray said Macias, who has gang tattoos on his shaved head, was the triggerman who fired a bullet from a .38-caliber revolver into Montemayor's head when he tried to get away from the three gang members who had abducted him at the family's trucking company in Rancho Dominguez.
The Pacoima gang members were in the process of compelling Montemayor to take them to his Buena Park home, where they erroneously believed he kept coffee cans crammed with cash skimmed from the trucking company, Murray contended during Macias' trial.
But Montemayor, who was aware that his wife and children were home getting ready to start their day, decided to bolt from the kidnapper's SUV rather than lead them to his home. He was gunned down before he got very far. Montemayor, Murray and other prosecutors said, was a hero.
Macias became the fifth and final co-defendant to be tried in the case. The same jury that recommended he receive the death penalty also convicted last month of first-degree murder plus several special circumstances, including that he committed murder for the benefit of his gang, and committed murder for financial gain.
During the penalty phase, Murray argued that Macias was "violence personified" who joined a gang at an early age, beginning a life of escalating crimes that culminated when he shot Montemayor in the head when he tried to flee to protect his family.
Defense attorney Robert Viefhaus pleaded with the jury to give Macias life without parole instead of the death penalty. Viefhaus contended Macias was the product of a lousy and impoverished childhood who was almost destined for a life in a gang. Viefhaus also argued that Macias is an accomplished artist who has some redeeming qualities and who made some positive changes in his life since his arrest. Macias spent much of his seven-week trial sketching at the counsel table.
The slaying was set up by Perna, Montemayor's sister, who was angry and jealous when she learned that their father planned to hand over control of the family trucking business to his son, according to the testimony in the previous trials.
Perna contacted an employee and asked if she knew people who would commit murder for money, prosecutors contended. The employee, who later pleaded guilty to a lesser charge and agreed to cooperate with authorities, put Perna in touch with Anthony Navarro, a veteran member of the Pacoima Flats street gang, according to prosecutors. Navarro then assembled the team that went after Montemayor.
On Oct. 2, 2002, Macias and two other gang members abducted Montemayor at gunpoint as he opened the trucking business in Rancho Dominguez. But there was no secret stash of money. Montemayor bolted from the kidnappers' SUV rather than lead the gang members to his house. He was chased down, Murray said, and Macias shot him at close range.
The early morning shooting on a quiet residential street ignited a wild police pursuit across Orange County freeways for miles as television cameras covered the action from helicopters until police executed a maneuver to disable the kidnappers' SUV at Tustin and Lincoln avenues in Anaheim. The three Pacoima Flats gang members, including Macias, were arrested at the scene
The other defendants in the case, and their roles in the shooting are:
Deborah Ann Perna, 54, convicted in 2005 of contracting with Pacoima Flats gang member Anthony Navarro to have her brother murdered so she would get control of the family's trucking business. She was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Navarro, 44, was convicted in 2007 of arranging to have three younger Pacoima Flats gang members kidnap and murder Montemayor. He received the death penalty.
Gerardo Lopez, 27, was one of three gang members who kidnapped Montemayor and was arrested at the end of the car chase. He was convicted in 2006 of special circumstances murder and sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Alberto Martinez, 33, the Pacoima Flats gang member who was the get-away driver after Montemayor was shot to death. He received the death penalty in 2010.
If Macias received the death penalty, he will be the 59th Orange County killer on death row, and the first to be added to the list in 2011.

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